Erpingham Camp

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A: Joe Orton Pf: 1967, London Pb: 1967 G: Farce in 11 scenes S: English holiday camp, 1960s C: 6m, 3f, extrasErpingham runs his eponymous holiday camp, with its chalets, communal dining, and so-called entertainment, on military lines. His guests are like internees who are forced to ‘enjoy themselves’ in the way Erpingham dictates. Redcoat Riley is a disappointment to Erpingham, because he is inefficient and clearly does not consult his manual closely enough. It is therefore with some reluctance that Erpingham gives Riley the job of Entertainments Officer when the old one dies. Indeed, Riley's ‘entertainment’ goes horribly wrong: called out from the audience of campers, Eileen, who keeps on pointing out that she is pregnant, is insulted and struck by Riley. Her partner Kenny leaps to her defence and knocks Riley to the floor. In retaliation for insubordination towards one of his staff, Erpingham locks away the campers' food and prevents them entering their chalets. Despite the reservations of some of the more timid campers, Kenny leads a revolt against Erpingham, heading a march on the stores. In the ensuing mêlée, Kenny beats up Erpingham, who crashes through the rotten floor, killing a number of dancers beneath. The Padre, notorious for his unwelcome visits to young girls' chalets, holds an impromptu funeral service for Erpingham, at which Riley gives the oration for his late lamented boss.

A: Joe Orton Pf: 1967, London Pb: 1967 G: Farce in 11 scenes S: English holiday camp, 1960s C: 6m, 3f, extras

Originally written for television, this is the only large cast play by Orton. In a rewriting of Euripides' Bacchae, the forces of repression are destroyed by the celebratory anarchism of the campers. However, the revolt does not stem from a philosophy of liberation, but rather from moral outrage, not least because their womenfolk have been insulted. Erpingham camp will endure and continue to attract acquiescent British holidaymakers.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).

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